“Dad, is it okay to kill animals?”

Let me ask you this – if  a lion kills a zebra in the wild, will it go to jail?

“No Dad, that’s crazy. Lions eat zebras, they do it to survive.”

“So the zebra doesn’t have the right to live?”

“I guess not… wait a minute, actually, why doesn’t it have the right to live?”

First, we have to define what rights are.

Rights are a concept that people came up with to allow us to live in a civilize society. Rights are there to protect values– things that are most important to us, like living, being free and trying to be happy.

The only reason we have the right to live is that it is the highest value a human being can hold. Without it, a person does not exist and cannot have any other value. This is why the right to live comes first and is the most important one. Other values we need in order to live a human life are freedom and property. Animals do not have those rights – we put them in cages in zoos and they don’t own anything.

So now, back to your question – why is it okay to kill animals?

First, I don’t believe it is okay to kill an animal without a reason. It is a question of values. For instance, you should ask your self: what are the values that you are pursuing or contradicting when you eat a steak?

1. You are having a good meal and you enjoy it. It helps you to survive and it might even make you happy as you enjoy the taste of the steak.

2. You are promoting animal slaughter because you are consuming the steak. That contradicts your value of being kind to other living creatures.

So what should you do? eat the steak and enjoy it, or avoid buying steaks and fight against cattle slaughter?

“I really do like steaks…”

And that is perfectly fine. So you just answered the question – it is okay to kill other animals if the killing is serving a higher value like surviving, being happy and enjoying life. If you I told you that dog meat is tasty as well – would you eat a dog?

“Never! that’s so gross”

Don’t say never – if the dog meat was the only thing you can eat, at some point you will choose to eat it as the value of survival will become relevant. This value is higher than your value of dogs, their companionship and what they represent to you.

“hmm, so everything is about what values are more important to me?”

Basically, yes. As long as you don’t violate rights of other people.

And here is the most important point here – when you’re not sure what is the right thing to do, think about what values are behind the different options you are considering. Think about what values are more important to you and then the decision will become easier. Not always, but usually this helps.

“Give me an example”

So, I was just debating if to buy myself a new car or save the money for other things like my retirement. What do you think are the two values that are represented here?

“You want to enjoy a new car, but you also want to make sure you have enough money when you’re old”

Right. It’s not an easy decision. But I decided to go ahead and buy the car, because I decided that in this case the value of enjoying the new car is more important than the additional money I will have when I am old. And besides, I thought that since you are so smart, you’ll surely become so rich that I shouldn’t worry anyway…

“Hey, that’s not fair”

Just kidding. Go to sleep, it’s getting late. I love you so much. You are my highest value.

“You’re mine too”

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